Flu Season is Upon Us!

Great advice from our friends at Appalachian Regional Healthcare System

The flu season began October 1 and runs through May, and according to The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services, North Carolina has already seen its first two deaths as a result of flu. As a visitor to our facilities, you play an important part in preserving the health and safety of patients.

The following precautions can protect our patients, as well as visitors, from the spread of infection.

Clean your hands before and after visiting

Scientists of America showed in their persuasive essay outline that cleaning hands and doing well with hygiene can positively influence on the health

The soap, water and hand sanitizer in the patient rooms are for everyone. Wash or sanitize your hands when entering and leaving the room of the person you are visiting to avoid bringing in and carrying out germs. Insist any healthcare provider do the same before caring for your loved one. Do not sit on patient beds or handle their equipment.

Check with nurses before you bring in food, send flowers or bring children

While flowers, young visitors and home-baked dishes spread cheer, they may not be allowed, so check with the nurse first. Cut flowers but not potted plants may be allowed in intensive care units. If you change the water in a vase of flowers, make sure to wash your hands afterwards. No children under the age of 12 can visit in the Intensive Care Unit. Children elsewhere in the hospital should not disturb the other patients. Bringing food is risky because the patient may be on a special diet or the food could spoil and make the patient sick. Half eaten food cannot be returned to the refrigerator and must be discarded.

Practice Cough Etiquette

Do not cough or sneeze into your hands. Cough or sneeze into your elbow or use a tissue. Discard tissue in the trash immediately after use. Wash your hands or use an alcohol hand sanitizer.

Isolation Precautions: Read & follow any instructions posted outside the door

Contact Precautions: you must wear gloves and a gown when entering the room.
Droplet or Airborne Precautions: you must wear a mask when entering the room.
If the patient you visit has a sign on the door you are required to obey it. Please talk to the nurses if you need assistance. Although you may have been around this person or live with this person, we must protect the other hospital patients and visitors. You can ask the nurse for any educational materials that may be available.

Stay at home if you are sick

Do not visit the hospital if you are sick or have had any ill symptoms within the last three days including nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, rash or uncontrolled cough.

Increase in flu cases prompts healthcare system to limit visitors

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is limiting visitation at Watauga Medical Center, Cannon Memorial Hospital and The Foley Center as a result of the continued increase in flu and influenza-like illnesses.

Visitors must:
Be 18 years or older
Be healthy and not have the flu or influenza-like illness
Not live with anyone who has been diagnosed with the flu or influenza-like illness
The medical team may make exceptions on a case-by-case basis for siblings of newborn babies and families of hospice or end of life patients.

“For the health and safety of our patients and residents, we must restrict visitation,” stated Dr. Danielle Mahaffey, Chief Physician Executive for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “Flu cases have almost reached pandemic levels. We need the community’s help to stop the spread in the High Country.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control, seasonal flu activity continues to rise in the U.S. The proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness continues to increase and has been at or above the national baseline.

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes an individual may catch flu by touching an object infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. Listed below are several things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
  • If you get sick with flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
  • Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.

Recognizable Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Most people recover from flu after about a week without lasting effects.

Seek emergency medical care if you or a family member has any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting

Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough
In babies, bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation
Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working diligently to prevent the spread of flu and appreciates any assistance the public can provide. For more information about the flu, visit www.flu.gov/ or www.cdc.gov/flu.

Tips to Avoid the Flu {From Appalachian Regional Healthcare System}

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System asks that anyone sick with the flu or flu-like symptoms voluntarily refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends, as well as those persons at the hospital for an outpatient procedure. It is also important that during this time of increased flu and flu-like illness in our area, visitors 12 and under should refrain from visiting hospitalized family and friends.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, seasonal flu activity continues to increase in the U.S. The proportion of people seeing their healthcare provider for influenza-like illness increased sharply from last week and has been at or above the national baseline for three weeks so far this season.

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System’s hospital emergency rooms, along with the physician offices and AppUrgent Care, have also seen an increase in the number of people presenting with influenza-like illness.

“Our top priority is to take every appropriate precaution to keep our patients and residents safe,” stated Dr. Danielle Mahaffey, Chief Physician Executive for Appalachian Regional Healthcare System. “We are appealing to community members who may be ill with the flu, or exposed to the flu, to refrain from visiting hospitalized or long-term care family and friends in order to help us protect the patients in our facilities.”

Tips to avoid the flu

Flu viruses spread mainly from person to person through coughing or sneezing. Sometimes an individual may catch flu by touching an object infected with the virus and then touching the eyes, mouth, or nose. Listed below are several things you can do to prevent catching or spreading the flu.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve, not into your hands.
  • If you get sick with flu, stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from making them sick.
  • Get the recommended seasonal flu vaccine.

Symptons of flu

Recognizable Symptoms Include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Sore throat
  • Body aches
  • Chills
  • Fatigue
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Most people recover from flu after about a week without lasting effects.

When to seek care

Seek emergency medical care if you or a family member has any of these symptoms:

  • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
  • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Severe or persistent vomiting
  • Flu-like symptoms that improve, but then return with fever and worsening cough
  • In babies, bluish or gray skin color, lack of responsiveness or extreme irritation

Appalachian Regional Healthcare System is working diligently to prevent the spread of flu and appreciates any assistance the public can provide. For more information about the flu, visit www.cdc.gov/flu.

Health Officials Urge Protection Against Flu

A joint release from Appalachian Regional Healthcare System & Appalachian District Health DepartmentAppalachian Regional Healthcare

 

(Boone, NC) – Appalachian District Health Department and Appalachian Regional Healthcare System are encouraging everyone to seek protection against the flu. Recently, the first death due to flu in North Carolina occurred in the Western North Carolina region.
“Tragically, we lose people every year due to influenza and too often, we delay getting vaccinated when there are so many opportunities available to get this important immunization,” said Beth Lovette, Health Director.
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. Every flu season is different, and influenza infection can affect people differently. Even healthy people can get very sick from the flu and spread it to others. Over a period of 31 seasons between 1976 and 2007,  estimates of flu-associated deaths in the United States range from a low of about 3,000 to a high of about 49,000 people. During a regular flu season, about 90 percent of deaths occur in people 65 years and older. The “seasonal flu season” in the United States can begin as early as October and last as late as May.
“An annual seasonal flu vaccine is the best way to reduce the chances that you will get seasonal flu and lessen the chance that you will spread it to others. When more people get vaccinated against the flu, less flu can spread through the community,” stated Dr. Herman Godwin, Chief Medical Officer, Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
There are two types of vaccines:

About 2 weeks after vaccination, antibodies that provide protection against the influenza viruses in the vaccine develop in the body.

It is especially important for children, older adults, and those that have medical conditions putting them at greater risks for complications from the flu, such as chronic health conditions like diabetes or heart disease, an immune compromised health condition, or pregnancy be vaccinated against the influenza.
To protect you and your family from flu:
  • Get your flu vaccine!
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
Symptoms of the flu include fever, aches, fatigue, cough, and stuffy and/or runny nose. If you do become sick, call your healthcare provider or the health department to find out what he or she recommends.
Walk-in appointments are available at the health department and the vaccine is available at local healthcare providers and pharmacy locations. For more information about the flu, go to www.flu.nc.gov or www.cdc.gov/flu or contact Appalachian District Health Department at (828) 264-6635.